When Lee Johnson revealed earlier this month that Denver Hume had suffered a setback in his bid to return to fitness, it was a crushing blow to Sunderland.
The Mackems have hardly been a radiant picture of health in the last few months so it was disappointing to lose yet another player through injury.
Considering Calum McFadzean’s performances in recent times, Hume’s vacant spot at left-back has become a big problem for Johnson to negotiate.
McFadzean gave a penalty away against Wimbledon in December and was arguably at fault for two goals when the Black Cats played Plymouth earlier this week.
Both of their strikes came down his side as he failed to get close to the opposition or track their runs.
As a result, Kristjaan Speakman and Johnson are looking to exploit the transfer market in a bid to improve that third of their team. Recently, they have been linked with Brighton full-back Alex Cochrane but a new option on their radar is Wimbledon’s Paul Osew.
The left-sided player is capable of playing as a left midfielder or further back in a more defensive role, but he is yet to play at all in League One this season. That’s particularly strange when you consider his haul of 18 outings last term.
Though, it would be wrong to judge Sunderland’s chase of the 20-year-old purely based on his lack of minutes. After all, he terrorised Arsenal in the Papa John’s Trophy last month.
Playing in a left wing-back role, he was influential as his side defeated the Gunners’ U21 side 3-0. Though, among their defensive line that day was Sokratis and William Saliba, a duo who cost the north Londoners £17m and £27m respectively.
Osew clearly wasn’t fazed by that and turned in a virtuoso performance. Not only did he score, but he also provided two opportunities for his teammates – the joint-most of anyone on the field. Coincidentally, it was even more than Arsenal starlet Gabriel Martinelli who was also afforded a start.
Though, most importantly for Sunderland, his defensive play was also astute. The youngster completed three tackles which was the second-highest of anyone in the Wimbledon team.
On a day where he had the potential to be outshone by a trio of top-flight proven players, Osew was arguably the star.
He was good in the final third and was more than capable defensively. With Sunderland in desperate need of improving the left-hand side of their starting XI, it’s clear that the wing-back would add a great deal to Johnson’s side.
The manager has previously spoken about wanting to bring in players who can stretch the play and the Wimbledon man certainly fits the bill in that department. They simply have to sanction a deal before the window closes.